Making an Impression with Openness

Open Innovation, Open Strategy, Crowdsourcing, Co-creation – all these firm-centric concepts have their roots in an open systems perspective and emphasize the value of interacting with and leveraging external actors. Arguably, there is a growing interest in research and practice to understand openness. But what is openness? Organizational openness towards external actors is associated in the literature either with, first, including external actors by seeking their input; second, exercising transparency by revealing internal information; and third, combining these approaches in a coupled mode.

Most research foregrounds substantial openness functions, such as getting useful suggestions from external audiences or using transparency to increase commitment and understanding of a firm’s strategy. Building upon the work of Whittington and colleagues (2016), Leonhard Dobusch and I sought to shed further light on how openness can be used as an impression management instrument (i.e using openness as an instrument to influence external audiences’ perceptions). From an open strategy perspective, on the one side, we know little about the underlying mechanisms driving the impression management effects of openness. On the other side, the impression management literature has paid openness scant attention.

In our article forthcoming Long Range Planning Special Issue on Open Strategy („Making an impression through openness: How open strategy-making practices change in the evolution of new ventures“) we were intrigued by two new ventures’ radical openness approach on their respective blogs and the positive blog and media audience reactions to this organizational practice (the time-tracking application Mite and the social media management and sharing tool Buffer). Both firms broadcasted relevant strategic information (e.g. user statistics, financial numbers), actively engaged in a dialogue with their blog audiences and even included them into decision making. While such openness may also substantively contribute to organizational outcomes (e.g. getting useful suggestions), we examined its impression management function.

Drawing on a comparative, longitudinal case study of the two new ventures communication on strategy-related issues over a four-year period, we demonstrate that openness enables firms to tap into a repertoire of proactive impression management strategies in novel ways. For instance, dialoguing with users and soliciting their opinions can be leveraged as flattery (ingratiation) and organizational self-promotion (projecting an image of competence).  Further, we show that open strategy-making contributes to new ventures’ quests for legitimacy (i.e. social acceptance) as they evolve. In the launch phase, dialoguing with blog audiences helps a venture attract endorsements for its organization and products. As the venture grows, concentrating on broadcasting relevant strategic information may attract media audiences’ additional support for pursuing openness as a desirable organizational practice.


Further information 

The University of Innsbruck published a news article on their website (in German). For further information on open strategy, check out the open strategy network.

Marietta Blau Scholarship, EGOS, etc.

A dissertation takes time. I am currently a DOC-team fellow of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Since I need more time shed light on specific aspects of my research, I applied for a Marietta Blau Grant. I am delighted to announce that I will receive the scholarship from beginning of April to End of December 2016. From April to August I will do my research at the University of Alberta (Edmonton). At UofA I will continue the work with my second supervisor, Michael Lounsbury. From September to December I have the opportunity to learn from Candace Jones at the University of Edinburgh. In January and February 2017 I will continue my DOC-team scholarship at JKU and finalize my dissertation. Note that the JKU featured my accomplishment in the Campus News online.

My supervisor, Robert Bauer and I were very productive. We successfully submitted a paper to the EGOS Conference in Neapel on crowdsourcing (Sub-theme 13: (SWG) Collective Powers for Renewal in Creative Industries). Another piece on crowdsourcing will be published in a book, edited by Brigitte Aulenbacher (JKU Linz), Maria Dammayr (JKU Linz), Klaus Dörre (FSU Jena), Wolfgang Menz (ISF München), Birgit Riegraf (Universität Paderborn), and Harald Wolf (SOFI Göttingen).

We, the DOC-team 67 (Maria Dammayr, Doris Graß and I), presented our interdisciplinary research results at the governance workshop in Linz last November. This presentation was the basis for our final project report for the Austrian Academy of Sciences. We plan to turn this report into a publication together with our supervisors (Brigitte Aulenbacher, Robert Bauer and Herbert Altrichter).

The application „Look at Linz“ is a success story. “Look at Linz” is also featured in two projects where I am involved. Stefan Etzelstorfer, Dennis Hilgers and I wrote a chapter for the book Open Tourism: Open Innovation, Crowdsourcing and Co-Creation Challenging the Tourism Industry. A previous version of our chapter can be downloaded here. The other project is lead by Lisa Schmidthuber (co-authored by Stefan Etzelstorfer, Dennis Hilgers and I). The paper with the title “Local open government: Determinants of online citizen participation“ was accepted for this year’s Academy of Management Meeting.

Academy of Management Meeting – Best Paper Proceedings

In this summer term, I was visiting researcher at FU Berlin (invited by Prof. Leonhard Dobusch). We further developed our paper on how young firms engage in open strategy-making on blogs. Our submission to the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management was selected for the AOM Best Paper Proceedings. (The AOM Best Paper proceedings contains a selection of approximately best 10 % of all paper submissions; roughly 3000+ papers are accepted to the conference).

I will present the paper at the “Open Strategy” Session (Program Session: 1787) next week in the AOM Meeting in Vancouver from 7th to 11th August. Together with Maria Paola Ometto (University of Alberta) and Johanna Winter (WU Vienna), I have another paper at the conference, which is part of the OMT session on “Disruptive Dynamics of Institutional Complexity” (Program Session: 1492) .

The journal Organization will soon publish the final version of our crowdsourcing paper. My supervisor Robert Bauer and I are very grateful for the constructive and challenging review process that greatly improved our paper. You can download a final version here.

I contributed to organizing this year’s Austrian Early Scholars Workshop in May. This workshop contributes to the internationalization efforts of JKU management research. Without the generous support of the Upper Austrian provincial government (Landesrätin Doris Hummer) it would not have been possible to organize this workshop. We are in the process of organizing the next workshop, more information will follow within the next months.

The Third Austrian Early Scholars Workshop in Management

I am currently supporting the organization of the Third Austrian Early Scholars Workshop in Management (7th – 8th May, JKU Linz). This workshop is an opportunity for advanced PhD students and academics in early career stages to present their research and discuss it with colleagues and professors from international and Austrian universities. In addition to facilitating intellectual exchange, this program supports the development of a global network of young graduates interested in management and organization studies from an institu­tional, organizational and behavioral per­spec­tive.

Continue reading “The Third Austrian Early Scholars Workshop in Management”

Crowdsourcing: Global Search and the Twisted Roles of Consumers and Producers

Robert Bauer and I wrote an article on crowdsourcing (Crowdsourcing: Global Search and the Twisted Roles of Consumers and Producers), which is forthcoming in Organization — Special Issue: Organizations and their Consumers edited by Yiannis Gabriel, Marek Korczynski and Kerstin Rieder.

This paper grew out of a dialogue that started two years ago. The starting point was the interest how crowdsourcing could contribute to innovative efforts of the firm. Without any doubt, a growing number of articles from various disciplines dedicate their attention to crowdsourcing. Robert Bauer and I share the fascination – for this very reason we seek to further stimulate the debate not only on how crowdsourcing creates value, but also about the societal consequences, and thus, the sustainability of crowdsourcing.

You can download the last version of our article here.

DOC-Team 67 erhält Leistungsprämie des Landes OÖ

Das DOC-Team 67 (Maria Dammayr, Doris Graß und Thomas Gegenhuber) hat eine Leistungsprämie des Land OÖ (5000 €) für interdisziplinäre Forschung erhalten. Wir fühlen uns sehr geehrt, dass uns der hochkarätig besetzte Beirat die Leistungsprämie zuerkannt hat. Wir bedanken uns beim Land OÖ für diese Unterstützung unserer Forschung.

Diese Prämie wurde im Rahmen des Programms zur Förderung von “Forschung, Lehre und Internationalisierung” (FLI) an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz verliehen. Dieses Programm ist eine Initiative von Landesrätin Mag.a Doris Hummer unter Mitwirkung der JKU zur Förderung und stärkeren Sichtbarmachung der Leistungen in Forschung und Lehre an der JKU und wird aus Mitteln des Landes Oberösterreich finanziert.

Our DOC-team was awarded 5000 Euro by the Upper Austrian Provincial Government for our achievements in interdisciplinary research.

Rewind and Fast Forward

2014 was a very exciting and productive year. I presented my work at several conferences and workshops and submitted two manuscripts to international journals (both manuscripts are still under review).

At the Academy of Management Meeting in Philadelphia (August 2014) I had the opportunity to get feedback from top scholars in our field for my dissertation proposal. I volunteered for the OMT Division to increase the social media presence at the AOM Meeting. I also was a reviewer for the OMT division. Royston Greenwood taught me the necessary skills in a course at the University of Alberta.

My supervisor Robert Bauer and I are working on a manuscript on crowdsourcing. Our conference submission was accepted for the Open- and User Innovation Workshop at Harvard Business School (August 2014). The paper is currently under review; we hope to get it published soon.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I co-developed the idea for establishing a web-based urban-maintenance reporting tool in Linz (“Schau.auf.Linz“). The platform also received the eAward and other cities in Austria launch their platforms using the Schau.auf.Linz software (e.g. Bregenz).

I contributed to two academic projects associated with “Schau.auf.Linz”: First, Stefan Etzelstorfer (Master student at JKU Linz), Dennis Hilgers (Professor at the Institute for Public and Non Profit Management) and I wrote an article on Local Open Government and discussed how Local Open Government is beneficial for the tourism industry (“Opening up Government: Citizen Innovation and new modes of collaboration in Austria”). This chapter will be published in the book Open Tourism – Open Innovation, Crowdsourcing and Collaborative Consumption challenging the tourism industry (Springer Verlag). Second, Stefan Etzelstorfer, Phillip Allerstorfer (Master-student in Web Science Program at JKU Linz), Wendy Cukier (Ryerson University) and Jaigris Hodson and I wrote a short piece for the Collective Intelligence Conference at MIT (Poster Presentation, June 2014). The paper can be accessed here.

Together with Leonhard Dobusch, I wrote a paper for the Open Strategy Workshop at Oxford (July 2014). We already submitted another version of the paper to the AOM Meeting 2015 in Vancouver.

I visited several crowdsourcing industry conferences this year, the Crowdopolis Conference in San Francisco (July 2014), the Crowdsourcing Week in Brussels (June 2014) and the Crowdsourcing Dialog in Munich (November 2014). Crowdsourcing is an exciting phenomenon to study; the growing number of conferences indicate that the “industry” is still growing.

We closed the year with a meeting of the DOC-team Advisory Board. The two days generated a lot of insight for our research team (Doris Graß, Maria Dammayr and I), which is funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The current list of our publications and conference presentations can be accessed here.

Looking forward

In 2015, the focus of my work will be the data collection for my dissertation. Moreover, I will attend some conferences: A revised version of the paper I have written with Maria Paola Ometto and Johanna Winter (“Losing the Activist Spirit: Institutional Complexity, Mission Drift, and Institutional Logics”) was accepted for the NIT Workshop in Vienna (I also attended the last workshop in Rome, May 2014). As mentioned before, I plan to attend the AOM Meeting in Vancouver. Moreover, I contribute to the organization of the 3rd Early Scholars Workshop in Linz.

What’s new

Our re:publica presentation was featured on the Think Act / Digital Impact blog of Roland Berger Strategy consultants and on the Jovoto Blog. In addition, I recommend watching the video of Florian Alexander Schmidt, who focused on crowdsourcing design in his re:publica talk.

Maria Paola Ometto, Johanna Winter and I submitted our full paper to the EGOS Sub-theme 60: Rethinking Responses to Institutional Complexity (Convenors: Royston Greenwood, University of Alberta; Patrick Vermeulen, Radboud University; and Charlene Zietsma, York University). The title of paper is: Losing the Activist Spirit: Institutional Complexity, Mission Drift, and Institutional Logics. The empirical context for our paper is ITCP-FGV (a student-run incubator within an Brazilian university). The organization is part of the Solidarity Economy Movement in Brazil. We examine the mechanisms that led to a mission drift; consequently, the organization lost its activist spirit.

Moreover, I am participating at the OMT Dissertation Proposal Workshop at the Academy of Management Meeting 2014 in Philadelphia, which is a great opportunity to take my work to the next level.

The 2nd Austrian Early Scholars Workshop in Management

The 2nd Austrian Early Scholars Workshop in Management took place last week at Johannes Kepler University (JKU). This workshop is an opportunity for young academics and PhD students to present their research and discuss it with colleagues and professors from JKU and partner universities from Austria and other countries. The workshop convenors, Giuseppe Delmestri, Chair of the Institute of Organization & Global Management Education (JKU) and Robert Bauer, Deputy Chair of the Institute of Organization & Global Management Education (JKU) gathered faculty from international universities and JKU to led the workshop:

  • Julia Brandl, Professor of Human Resource Management at the Institute of Organisation & Learning (University of Innsbruck)
  • Gili Drori, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Royston Greenwood, Professor of Strategic Management at the Alberta School of Business (University of Alberta)
  • Markus Höllerer, Senior Lecturer of Organization Theory at the Australian School of Business (UNSW)
  • Candace Jones, Professor of Management & Organization at Boston College and Chair for the Organization and Management Division of the Academy of Management
  • Renate Meyer, Professor of Organization Studies (WU Vienna) and President of the European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS)
  • Matthias Fink, Professor of Innovation Management at JKU
  • Dorothea Greiling, Professor of Management Accounting at JKU and Chair of the Public Business Administration Section of the German Academic Association for Business Research (VHB)
It was a pleasure to help with organizing this workshop. I am looking forward to next year´s workshop.